Saturday, December 7, 2013

Insights from Carmel- A Guide to Growth Toward Union with God

Insights from Carmel by Patricia Tresselle, OCDS, has gone to press! The books should be available in the next week or two, just in time for Christmas!

I'm more excited about this book project than any others I have done this year (including my own.) I love Pat's book. She provides an in-depth study of the writings of Carmelite saints, Carmelite prayer types and methods, and meditations through the liturgical year. 

The book is intended to be used at the discretion of formation directors in the various communities but it is also a great introduction for anyone who wants to learn more about Carmelite spirituality and the Carmelite way of life.

The goal of Carmelite spirituality is to live in union with God. Pat Tresselle shares some powerful insights and tools to grow as close as possible in relationship to Christ our Lord.

Here's what's in the book (from the table of contents):
  1. The Process of Formation
  2. The Development and Necessity of Prayer 
  3. Basic Types of Prayer
  4. Stages of Prayer: Following St. Teresa 
  5. Prayer and St. John of the Cross
  6. St. Therese and the “Little Way of Prayer”
  7. Prayer and Christian Meditation 
  8. Lent, Penance and Prayer 
  9. Epiphany
  10. A Journey Through The Interior Castle 
  11. May- The Month of Mary
  12. Prayer and Action In a Carmelite Life
  13. St. John of The Cross, Teacher and Guide 
  14. Meditation On The Magnificat
  15. The Beatitudes and Carmelite Spirituality 
  16. The Way of the Cross and The Way of Nada 
  17. Meditation on Gethsemane
  18. Meditation of Jesus’ Last Words on the Cross

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gratitude- Carmel Heart Media's 1st Birthday!

Carmel Heart Media - The First Year

During this time of Thanksgiving, I am so very grateful for the joy of my work. I'm very grateful to be able to write, edit, publish and create art for issues and causes that are important to me.

In November of 2012, Carmel Heart Media, LLC, was formed. This was after taking a year to develop a business plan and applying for and receiving a grant to get things going.

In our first year, Carmel Heart Media has produced-
*Re-publication of Borderline and Beyond, book and workbook in print and e-book Kindle and Nook and more than twenty other online stores.
*A new app for help with borderline personality treatment in Google Play and the Apple Store.
*Publication of the book, Ordinary Heroes, by Terry Ianora

In December, CHM will be releasing
*Insights from Carmel by Pat Tresselle, OCDS

...and in the new year, hopes to complete publication of
*Autism, the Dogs I Love and Me

Carmel Heart Media has also offered-

*Editing Services for several on-going clients

*Social media management and consulting services

*Web Design

*Graphic Design (book covers and memes)

To help us celebrate our birthday, take a look at the many services and products we're proud to offer. We wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks everyone for your support,

Monday, November 18, 2013

This is autism.

Autism has been historically portrayed as being a scary and detestable thing. Parents have been horrified to learn their children are autistic. Immediately, many begin to mourn their children's future, as though, just because their child has been labeled autistic, they will probably have no future.

An interesting thing has happened in recent years as autistic children have been growing up and as adults have begun to be diagnosed as well as children. We're discovering that having autism isn't half bad. We've actually started to like ourselves.

I am autistic. Although my life has been very difficult, I wouldn't have it any other way. I cannot drive due to related neurological issues. I have no ability to make spatial maps in my head, so I get lost getting to familiar places on a regular basis. Fire alarms and alarms from emergency vehicles send me into a panic attack state that can ruin hours of an afternoon while I attempt to regain balance. I can only handle dealing with one thing at a time and I need to stay on one topic at a time in conversation, or I become easily overwhelmed. My emotional development has been very slow and will never be like others my age. Although it isn't obvious to many people, social situations are usually hard work for me that leave me feeling exhausted later. The chaos of a period of change and transition, like moving to a new home, can keep me in a constant state of being on the verge of emotional meltdown because I lose the physical bearings that orient me. So, I'm not going to say "This is autism. This is easy."

I will say, "This is autism. This is beauty," however. Here is why- Here are some traits and qualities common in autism that I never want to lose: loyalty, conscientiousness, honesty, sincerity, thoroughness. Also, being detail-oriented, being a natural non-conformist (although not by choice) and being comfortable and happy in solitude. I also like the emotional intensity that accompanies a lot of this for me, because I have to rely on using art and poetry to express it.

Organizations like Autism Speaks are still using scare tactics that make parents feel horrible about having autistic children. As a result, parents scurry about trying one quack cure after another, trying to "fix" their child. Autism Speaks also intimidates people into sending them money for a cure. Since autism is "hard-wired," just like intellectual handicaps, the only way to "fix" it is through genetic research. That is almost all the research Autism Speaks does and it will eventually lead only to identifying the genes for autism so that more of us will be aborted. In other words- Eugenics.

Autism Speaks isn't listening to us, although Autism Speaks claims to be our voice. Even though we have our own voice, they want to shout over it. Autism Speaks executives have high six figure salaries and practically spend more money on jet fuel than goes into their research programs. Don't let Autism Speaks scare you. There's no reason to be afraid of us.

Yes, I have to have help. I have home healthcare assistance several hours a week. I also have a self-employment grant that came from Vocational Rehabilitation. Because of having that help, I'm able to accomplish working towards fulfilling my potential, just as other people do. I am capable of so much more than I knew I could do.

I own my own publishing business and I am also president of a non-profit. I belong to a secular branch of a religious order. But, this blog isn't about my accomplishments. This blog is to say that having autism doesn't have to hold us back in life. Autism can even be a reason to succeed in life.

From a Christian point of view, is autism a "cross to bear" really? In some ways and on some days, it feels like it. But, more often these days, I view my autism as a great blessing. From a spiritual perspective, I've learned that being acutely aware of my weakness and relying on God to do what I cannot has helped strengthen me so that I can handle stress far more easily. I think I'm lucky that I have so many reminders that I need Him. But, above all, I'm grateful to be made the way I am.

This is autism. This is worth it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Borderline and Beyond App Screenshots

The Borderline and Beyond Smartphone App is available on Google Play and it should be available in the Apple Store today or tomorrow.

What's in the app?

*Complete Ebook- The full text of the original version of Borderline and Beyond

AND many other features-Take a look!

Tab 2- Quick Reference in Crisis
TAB 1- Complete Ebook (Index Shown here)
Tab 3- Positive Reminders

TAB 4- Question Guides- To Help You Think Through Difficult Situations

Result when you click on Question 3 (Above)
Example Question Process-Relationship Category

TAB 5- Info about CHM, with social media links


Tests to Measure Your Progress

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Heartbeat of Jesus, Why I Live

I was wandering the woods in my amnesia, 

Following the lights to scattered campfires, wandering to who knows where.

The moon was full

My heart was hungry

Who am I? Where am I?  So lost, confused and crying.

When my father held me as a baby, his heartbeat soothed my every tear.

When I am close to Jesus, I am near his heartbeat too. 

I am a baby in his arms and His Sacred Heart holds my heart in the safest place I'll ever be.

As I grew older, my dad and I camped by the river. The heartbeat of the river soothed me in the intoxicating laurel thicket where we slept.

Every evening, my dad's friend would say, “This is the life.” 

Years passed when I could not hear that heartbeat. 

All I could hear were chaotic sounds of need and fear, 

frantic crickets and cicadas seeking quickly fleeting mates.

The moon was full

My heart was hungry

Starving, all alone.

One day, I will find myself, floating on my back, nailed to my cross.

I won't move there but I'll be freer than in all my life, alongside of Jesus in that river of peace. 

Indifferent to my pain, my peace will deepen, more than I have ever known. He has shown me that. 

Jesus, floating with me, will say to me, with all delight, “My child, this is the life.”

The Cross, it is the Life, the life that pulls me back into the rhythm of His heart at His breast and the waves in their joy, “My child my child, this is the Only Life.”

My heart is full

As the moon fades into dawn.


-Laura Paxton 11/02/2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Heroine, St. Teresa of Jesus

Today is the feast day of St. Teresa of  Jesus, also known as St. Teresa of Avila. She is my patron saint and the foundress of my order, the Order of Discalced Carmelites.

Before I became Catholic, I was researching to write a book about contemplative prayer. I read several books by and about famous contemplatives during that time, but the story that struck me the most was that of St. Teresa of Avila. Although she had spent her life as a nun, she did not have a "spiritual awakening," or what could be called a "spiritual conversion experience," until she was in her forties. I approached reading St. Teresa as a woman also in my forties who was disillusioned with life, directionless and wanting something more. 

In popular spirituality, which some refer to as "new age," much is often said about "union with God." Union with God can give unlimited power, bliss and wisdom, they say. Seems everyone has a path to get there, for the right price. Yes, I bought in to it. It's sad to me now that I once believed that good feelings, money and status and power could contribute at all to quality of life. They really don't.

St. Teresa had a similar realization, and wrote:

"I spent nearly 20 years on that stormy sea, often falling in this way and each time rising again, but to little purpose, as I would only fall once more... I can testify that this is one of the most grievous kinds of life which I think can be imagined, for I had neither any joy in God nor any pleasure in the world. When I was in the midst of worldly pleasures, I was distressed by the remembrance of what I owed to God; when I was with God, I grew restless because of worldly affections."

The confirmation saint I chose, when I became Catholic, was St. Teresa of Avila. This is before I even knew there was a Secular order of Discalced Carmelites. My sponsor had given me a book with the lives of the saints in it, and I had considered choosing another one. In the process, I read and became impressed with the lives of many saints, but still my main affection went to St. Teresa.

Only a month or two after my conversion, I met Terry Ianora, director of 1st Way in Eugene, Oregon, who is a Secular Carmelite. Immediately, I wanted to find out more about the order. I spent a year as an aspirant before being accepted into the order's formation program early last summer.

Thank you, St. Teresa, for showing me what life is really all about. It's all about Him. He is all that gives life breath and power and meaning. He gives all purpose and following His will provides all that is satisfying and worth living for.

St. Teresa of Jesus, pray for us.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jesus loves us MOST where we are weak.

At the Secular Carmelite retreat I went to last weekend, I heard a message I didn't expect and it has changed the way I'm hearing scripture, liturgy and homilies. I have different ears somehow.

The topic of our retreat was, "Rediscovering the Riches of Divine Intimacy," with retreat master Father Robert Barcelos, OCD. I had been wondering how to grow in intimacy with God, pondering how it was that I had been feeling stuck for so long and even having a hard time following through on my prayer commitments. 

Father Robert said that Jesus loves us MOST where we are weak. He doesn't love us DESPITE when  we're weak, but loves us MOST when we are weak. It's his preference. Whenever Jesus picks a place of encounter, it is in a place where life is messy, shameful or overwhelming for us.

Where did Jesus choose to encounter mankind, face to face, in the flesh, for the first time? In a dank, smelly stable, in the middle of the night. He could have chosen any other place to meet us, but he chose there, a messy, unpleasant, uncomfortable place. When we follow Jesus through the scriptures, where does He meet us? He goes to where the tax collectors and prostitutes are. He is right there when the adulterous woman is to be stoned to death. He's there with the sick, hungry and grieving. He doesn't seek out places where He isn't needed or where people don't realize that they need Him, but He is, as Father Robert said, "a magnet for our affliction." He wants with all His heart to love us there.

The enemy also zones in on affliction. Like a shark smelling blood, he moves quickly for a kill. The greatest spiritual battles of our lives are around our wounded places and our weak places. The enemy will try to make you run from God in shame, but where do you go when you feel ashamed? Into the arms of the enemy instead. 

Spiritual Discernment Tip from Father Robert: Jesus will never want you to run away in shame as Adam and Eve did in the garden. They ran in shame because they were under the power of the enemy during that time. Jesus will correct us but He will also embrace us in His love. He treasures our trust and our repentance more than anything else.

Simple truth but powerful for me. I notice a lot now when I start to feel shame, pain, weak and overwhelmed, especially now that I'm moving. I remember Father Robert saying, "Jesus loves you MOST in your messiness." Before communion, we say, "Lord, I am not worthy that you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed." Honestly, I have always thought to myself that I am not worthy for anyone to come under my roof. I'm a mess. I don't want to invite anyone into that. But, apparently, Jesus is like a One Man clean-up crew. He's not a King we have to prepare the homes of our souls for, so they'll be good enough for Him to enter. He's the only one who CAN clean them, order them, straighten them out. When he knocks, we should say, "Thank the Lord he's here. he's the only one who can heal my soul," instead of running from Him in shame. 

I don't have to run from God anymore, which is what I have been doing when I skip my liturgy of the hours or my daily prayer time on occasion. I don't have to run away from love. He WANTS to live in me, and he loves me MOST when I'm a mess inside because he loves to do His work to order it.

So, lately at mass, I'm transfixed on what I hear. I go to daily mass, so honestly some days, I'm thinking, "blah, blah, blabbity blah." Now, I'm hearing mercy and grace and love and what God wants to do for me to help me carry out His will. Hey, I've heard this a zillion times but never really HEARD it before. I realize this will pass, but I'm not daydreaming. My mind isn't wandering. I'm right there... because I know He loves me there.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness." -2 Corinthians 12:9

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Borderline is Brave.

"Individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder have often been treated as psychiatric lepers, with treating professionals approaching them armored with rigid boundaries, negative expectations and a poor prognosis. This does not need to be the case. Another alternative exists: to see the individual suffering from this disorder as courageous and full of creative potential."

- Laura Paxton, from Borderline and Beyond, The original edition 

 Just waking up every morning to face the day can be an act of courage for someone suffering from BPD. It is not self-pity or wallowing in turmoil that creates this difficulty. 

A person suffering from BPD continually encounters emotional over-stimulation and overwhelm, often beyond his or her capacity to cope. This is through no fault of their own, but through having a different threshold for stress. Other conditions have similar low thresholds at times, such as autism, PTSD and ADHD. 

However, in addition to this greater propensity to overwhelm, a person with BPD  must face a lifetime of learning basic skills that most others take for granted, such as distress tolerance and alternatives to self-harming behavior. 

Every day presents a challenge in facing fear and coping effectively. This can be exhausting for many. Sometimes, trauma from the past must be worked through in therapy. 

While it might be easier to turn to alcohol, drugs or cutting, a borderline in recovery works very hard to stand up to many fears. To be borderline and recovering is to be brave, and that is commendable and worthy of respect.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Borderline is Beautiful

"Since I believe every hardship has a hidden blessing somewhere inside of it, I will say that borderlines are more aware of their connectedness to nature, feeling intensely connected with the environment, including the effects of subtle changes in weather. Borderlines are often more sensitive to children and animals, understanding their experience and naturally finding grounds to
identify with them."
- Laura Paxton

 Professionals agree that treating borderline personality disorder is one of the most challenging things they do. Even after all this time, when people have come forward without symptoms for years, who believe they may be cured; Even after all this time when public campaigns have been done to decrease stigma- Still, professionals often discuss borderline personality disorder among themselves with dread and derision. 

So, why do I say, "borderline is beautiful?" What's so "beautiful" about people who seem desperately needy and self-destructive, some who are "cutters," and some who make "manipulative" threats? What's even mildly attractive about that? 

Every negative "disorder" has a flip-side. Nothing is all bad. When an organism suffers in one area, it compensates in another. As far as creativeness and sensitivity, borderlines have it in spades!

People with borderline personality disorder need to know about the beauty they have inside in order to fight the problems people see on the outside. Without awareness that they are beautiful souls, what motivation is there to recover?

Borderline is Beautiful!

Borderline and Beyond

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why pray anyway?

"Prayer and intimacy with God are the only way to nourish and sustain ourselves through the outward sacrifices of daily life. We need prayer in our life to fulfill the deepest desires of our heart that we are not even aware of- to bring us a peace and joy that we could not have established for ourselves. God, the One, put this desire in us so that we would reach out in love, to love, and He sent us Jesus to show the way." 
-Pat Tresselle, OCDS

Pat Tresselle has a down-to-earth way of explaining things that other Carmelite authors have lacked. Pat just has the ability to make "tough" concepts make sense. Why do we need prayer? To fulfill needs and desires we may not even be aware of. In other words, do it although we don't know why to receive more reward than we could ever have dreamed. We need something. We don't know what it is. We can't get it without help. So, trust that strange desire to search for meaning and reach out to Him. God's the One who gave us that desire and He is the only one who can quench it.

Pat Tresselle's book, due for release in November of this year, tackles these and other difficult concepts in a way that makes it all come together. Get ready for the great, "Aha!" 

It you'd like to be notified when Insights from Carmel is released, contact

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Feast Day of St. Albert of Jerusalem- Today!

Today is an important Carmelite feast day. Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Albert of Jerusalem, lawgiver of Carmel. For those of you who are not Catholic, the Church as a whole celebrates certain feast days, but certain religious orders have feast days of their own, such as the feast of St. Albert.

St. Albert is important to Carmel because he was the one who brought the hermits of Carmel together under one rule, to help them live together in community, during the early 1200's. (I imagine bringing community rules to hermits might be a bit like herding cats!) The Carmelite community respected St. Albert and so requested him to write the rule that would structure the community.  The Rule of St. Albert is still followed today, although modified slightly for nuns, monks, friars and secular communities. The rule is followed in both branches of Carmel- OCDS and O.Carm. Our rule is one of the earliest monastic rules, and it is the shortest.The Rule of St. Albert was considered very strict even at the time he wrote it. The Rule requires rigorous fasting and time in silence.

St. Albert was born in 1149 in Parma, Italy as Albert Avagadro. Her served as Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1204 until his death. In 1214, he had been invited to the Fourth Lateran Council, but was assassinated in Acre on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross by a disgruntled cleric.

Lord God, through Saint Albert of Jerusalem you have give us a Rule of life according to your Gospel to help us attain perfect love.  Through his prayers may we always live in allegiance to Jesus Christ and serve faithful until death him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Carmelite Tradition and the Exaltation of the Cross Day

Today is the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross. This day is important in Carmelite tradition, because the Rule of St. Albert, which all our constitutions are based on, declared that all Carmelites should fast from this day until Easter. That's right. You didn't read that wrong. Seven months out of the year- fasting. Fasting does not always mean going completely without food. Rather, it means eating less or skipping certain meals. Luckily, Carmelites are no longer required to fast for seven months!

In fact, I'm sure the early Carmelites would not have been able to eat this delicious cake we ate today, made by Terry Ianora. It's chocolate with white icing and a cross made out of chocolate chips. Yummy!

Today was one of the best days I've spent at Carmel Maria Regina Monastery. Our community of Secular Carmelites spends one Saturday a month at the monastery with mass, liturgy of the hours, prayer, meetings and formation classes. Today was nice because of the theme we had of "embracing the cross." For our Lectio Divina time, we meditated on a poem by St. Teresa of Avila called, "Embracing the Cross." The poem was read three times, with time for us to meditate a while and then discuss. Each time, we saw more in it as a group and even on the final reading, I noticed things we hadn't mentioned. It's a very rich and meaningful poem that doesn't really seem that way upon the first reading.

So, we contemplated most of the day what it means to "embrace the cross." I came to understand some things for the first time. When the cross is exalted in our minds and in our hearts, our attention is focused completely on God. In her poem, St. Teresa says, "Be cloistered in Him." In her lifetime, she often said, "The greatest cloister is ourselves." She is talking about going within that secret place deep within us where we can be alone with God. From that still place, chaos in the world and intense stormy emotions can move through the soul and yet the soul is at peace with God. St. Teresa wants us to nurture the sanctity of that place in our hearts. The only way to do that is to exalt the cross and to embrace the cross.

Later in the afternoon, my formation class continued our study on The Spiritual Canticle by St. John of the Cross. I had an immediate affinity for the first 12 stanzas because they were about intense emotions. I intuitively understood those stanzas almost "word for word" as St. John explained them in his commentaries. Stanzas 13-24 thoroughly confused me, so I was glad to have a class to help me understand it better. In these stanzas, the soul moves from a "purification" stage to an "illumination" stage. In the first section, the soul is emotional because the soul has just experienced God but has too much confusion and emotional turmoil to really be still and be with Him. In the second section, the soul progressively learns to move beyond the senses and emotions.

Coincidentally (yeah, right!) this is the same thing I've been most focused on working on in spiritual direction lately. Being still, in quiet, "dispassionate," and at peace is a process St. John describes well. In that place of peace, we find Christ. In that place of deep stillness, we find the Cross, learn to exalt and embrace it in our lives.

I'd say this was a good day :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Panic, Anxiety, Borderline Personality and Hunger for God

Every Friday afternoon, I spend an hour in the Adoration Chapel at church. Today, I had the idea to practice lectio divina with the stanzas. I was surprised by some of the reflections I had. For some reason, I was pulled to the topic of mental illness, specifically anxiety disorder, panic attacks and borderline personality disorder. 

The first twelve stanzas struck me as "angsty" and full of longing and distress. Anxiety permeates the entire section. The "bride" has seen God, who is "the bridegroom," only for an instant, and then He was gone. If she had not seen Him or known He was there, she could not feel the pain of loss, and because he caused the sense of loss, only He could heal her.

The phrases of the Canticle are intense and dramatic,such as, "If you shall see Him Whom I love the most, Tell Him I anguish, suffer, and die," and, "all wound me more and more, and something leaves me dying, I know not what, of which they are darkly speaking."

Anyone who has suffered from anxiety disorder or panic attacks knows that feeling- the fear that you will die. When we are infants, we cannot be abandoned, or we will certainly die. People suffering from borderline personality disorder have an intense fear that others will abandon them, often because one of their primary caregivers did as a child, so this type of anxiety is common. Threats like, "Don't leave or I will die," or "Come back or I will kill myself," are based on the same primal terror.

The truth is that we will die without God. We are dependent on him for our breath and our heartbeat. We are dependent on him for eternal life as well. Once we have "experienced" God (which usually is an emotional experience,) we become filled with the desire to fully merge with Him, the source of life itself. 

If a person suffering emotional turmoil were to turn to God rather than to a human person in order to heal from such deep wounding, that person will not be disappointed, for God will never leave her. 

Only an infinite God can fill the infinite hole in our hearts. God offers the  ultimate medicine.

Those who turn to God will understand St. John of the Cross, when he says,

Quench my troubles,
For no one else can soothe them;
And let my eyes behold You,
For You are their light,
And I will keep them for You alone.

Reveal Your presence,
And let the vision and Your beauty kill me,
Behold the malady
Of love is incurable
Except in Your presence and before Your face.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

St. Therese of Liseux, "Play Mate" of the Child Jesus

An Excerpt from, "Insights from Carmel," 

by Pat Tresselle, OCDS

In my early years as a Carmelite, I was eager to get to know about the lives of all our great Carmelite saints. St. Teresa of Avila, the reformer and foundress of the Discalced Carmelites, I found easy to read and relate to. She was spunky, outgoing, and a determined woman who led a full life and experienced the deepest spiritual relationship with God. Her writings were simple outlining prayer and spiritual paths to God.

St. John of the Cross was not so simple. He was highly educated and his spiritual heights were reached through much adversity. His writings and spiritual guidance were very deep and needed to be read over and over again to fully understand and appreciate his teachings.

Then there is St. Therese of Lisieux, with her short and sheltered life, telling us of her “little way.” I must admit upon first reading of her life and writings I said, “How could this young girl, with little experience of life and a relatively easy and sheltered one at that, really know anything and think she could give anyone else advice?” It took me several years of re-reading her works and getting to know her, and also developing a little more spiritual maturity, that I could truly appreciate the simplicity and innocence that only lay on the surface of her deep spirituality. 

I learned we had more in common and experience than I realized and that she does, indeed, teach us more about perseverance and faith through the “dark nights” of our life than the others because she did not have the ecstasies and spiritual consolations as Teresa and John did to help bring her to the heights of union. Her knowledge of God was simply infused into her.

While the teachings of St. Teresa and St John of the Cross were from their own experiences and written as steps or instructions to others, St. Therese and her “little way” is based simply on faith, hope and love. She experienced very few spiritual consolations, yet her prayer was firm in the faith of God’s presence and love for her and all sinners. She experienced her own “dark nights,” even to the very end of her life, but she always had hope in her prayers for God’s mercy and acceptance of her littleness. And love continuously shined through her life in her constant efforts to please her father, her sisters, several nuns in her monastery that seemed to resent her.

She was always praying for the conversions of sinners and missions. In her littleness, she had much devotion to the Child Jesus and to the Holy Face which she took as her religious name. In the final months of her sickness, she tried never to be an inconvenience to the other sisters and always apologized if she was short with them. Love and charity prevailed even when her faith and hope were at the lowest ebb.

But most of all, without her even realizing it, she had so much to teach us. The little flowers she promised to rain from heaven were her simple words about prayer. Those words are so simple, spontaneous, innocent, and precocious, but always from her pure heart. She never provided particular plans or instructions on prayer, but enjoyed simple and direct conversation with Jesus, just as St. Teresa of Avila had encouraged. With Therese, there didn’t need to be a special place to be in. Wherever she was - in bed, at play, on a trip, in company or alone, her thoughts could go quickly to the presence of her “Child Jesus” and tell Him all of what was on her mind or in her heart at a given moment. 

In her childlike fervor, she loved to imagine herself as a little ball that the “Child Jesus” could play with. She would correlate different circumstances of her life to what Jesus was doing with his “little toy ball” at the time - either bouncing it around in play, or holding it tight to His heart, or just leaving it alone in the corner. She would imagine that, during the arid times of prayer, Jesus had left her (the ball) in the corner and the he was sleeping and not paying attention to her.

She also liked to imagine herself as a little flower and, every time she did a good deed or accepted a sacrifice, she was placing another little flower at the feet of Jesus. She referred to that often in her Story of a Soul and thus she received the nickname of “St. Therese the Little Flower.”

St. Therese, in her own little way, passed through all the “mansions” of St. Theresa’s Interior Castle and the “dark nights” of St. John of the Cross. She had her share of doubt, aridity, consolation and emptiness in her short lifetime. We cannot compare or judge anyone’s sufferings or trials against another as God gives according to each person’s character and spirituality what they need. A small thing to one individual can be a very big thing to another. What might appear to be a relatively small trial, when experienced by St. Therese, they seemed like huge caverns to her pure and simple soul.

She was just fourteen when she first desired to enter Carmel. No doubt, much of this desire in the beginning was due to her two older sisters already in Carmel, especially since her sister Pauline had been a surrogate mother for Therese when their mother died. But the trials she went through the next whole year to obtain special permission to enter at age fifteen greatly matured her. Then her father, whom she loved dearly, died shortly after she entered the convent.

In her nine short years living as a Carmelite nun, she experienced mostly aridity and the “dark nights” and, even while lying sick before her death, she wrote of her “Trial of Faith.” Because she had tuberculosis and endured a prolonged and agonizing illness, she experienced and accepted this as true martyrdom and sainthood. But to persevere in faith and hope and love when at times it seemed God wasn't listening or seemed to not be there was the hardest of all. 

I am sure we have all experienced these feelings and St. Therese gave the greatest example for us- to remain at peace and persevere until the end. Hers is the prayer of simplicity- just speaking directly to God about our deepest longings and complete surrendering as a child to a parent, remaining in faith and the feet of Jesus until He is ready to “play.” 

Through her and by her example, many of her sisters in the monastery with her, (including her own blood sisters and many others that followed after,) gained knowledge and hope that through the little trials of life, they could experience union and be close to God, even in the “little ways.” We need not feel that the absence of visions or ecstasies means failure, for we can, without our knowing it, soar to great spiritual heights. 

Therese not only experienced great sufferings, but offered even her darkest moments as a sacrifice and holocaust to Jesus on behalf of sinners. We, too, must realize we can offer all our own suffering and struggles to God as our sacrifice (our holocaust) and wait patiently for God’s will to be done. Prayer is the key. Constant persevering prayer, in good times and in bad, both as set down by our Rule and every time our heart feels the tug for spontaneous conversation with Our Lord. Prayer gives us courage and keeps us connected to the Lord of life.

Like her, in childlike simplicity, we place ourselves at Jesus’ feet like a ball or little flowers. We bask in His love and raise our petals in prayer. “Here I am Lord! Accept my life as a sweet fragrance of my love.” But if Our Lord walks past us and our petals are temporarily crushed beneath His Precious Feet, have no fear or feel lost. He’ll be back. Let sweet surrender renew your petals of prayer, for the Son of God will shine on you again. One day, He will stoop to pick us up and place us in His heavenly garden.

(from "Insights from Carmel," coming soon from Carmel Heart Media)

Friday, August 2, 2013

"If there was a God, he wouldn't let me feel the way I do." -Kip Kinkle

The picture on the right is of a fifteen year old boy we all know well. Few doubt his psychological pain and turmoil and the intense suffering he must have felt. Yet, why did he draw the conclusion that because we feel miserable, God does not exist?

It's not hard to see how Kip came to that conclusion. We live in a "feel good" world.  We live in a world where truth is relative, we are the center of the universe and God is only real if the world runs as we think it should and we think we should feel good.

For centuries, people understood how pain and suffering had an important place in spiritual growth and development. This understanding was often taken for granted. In fact, many believed that the greatest love God ever showed was to suffer with us, to show us that he would not ask us to bear anything he hadn't borne before us. 

In this world where most believe feeling good is the most important goal a human being can have, some of us still believe life is about much more. Suffering is not proof there is no God. Suffering helps us realize we need to rely on God. There is medicine available for suffering that creates sickness of soul. We find it through uniting our suffering with the suffering of Christ, so that our love has purpose far beyond ourselves and for all mankind. God doesn't take our suffering away when it can give Him an opportunity to show His love through us. When we hurt, God is with us, closely with us, and that is why he came to die for us and with us.

Here are some quotes from Carmelite Saints. They express this so much better than I can-

"The purest suffering bears and carries in its train the purest understanding."
-St. John of the Cross

"Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross."
-St. John of the Cross

"Truth suffers, but never dies."
-St. Teresa of Avila

"Love consists not in feeling great things but in having great detachment and in suffering for the Beloved."
-St. John of the Cross

"There is no affliction, trial, or labor difficult to endure, when we consider the torments and sufferings which Our Lord Jesus Christ endured for us."
-St. Teresa of Jesus

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Meet the Author- Pat Tresselle, OCDS

Pat Tresselle, OCDS is currently a member of the Eugene Oregon Maria Regina Secular Carmelite Community.

She originally came from the Redlands California OCDS community, where she had entered into formation in 1974 and made her vows in 1983. She held the positions of treasurer and secretary before becoming formation director of that community from 1979 to 2002.

In 2003 she moved to Roseburg, Oregon with her husband and transferred to the Eugene, Oregon community. It was during this time that she began putting together the material she wrote as formation director (along with other articles she wrote– two of which were published in the Carmelite Digest.)

Pat's book, Insights from Carmel, is coming soon from Carmel Heart Media!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Happy Feast Day of the Amazing Prophet Elijah, Father of Carmel!

"In Elijah, we see the solitary prophet who nurtured his thirst for the one and only God, and lived in his presence. He is the contemplative, burning with passionate love for the Absolute who is God, "his word flaring like a torch.” He is the mystic who, after a long and wearisome journey, learned to read the new signs of God's presence. He is the prophet who became involved in the lives of the people, and who, by battling against false idols, brought them back to faithfulness to their Covenant with the One God. He is the prophet who was in solidarity with the poor and the forgotten, and who defended those who endured violence and injustice. 

From Elijah, Carmelites learn to be people of the desert, with heart undivided, standing before God and entirely dedicated to his service, uncompromising in the choice to serve God's cause, aflame with a passionate love for God. Like Elijah, they believe in God and allow themselves to be led by the Spirit and by the Word that has taken root in their hearts, in order to bear witness to the divine presence in the world, allowing God to be truly God in their lives. Finally, in Elijah they see, one who belonged to a school of prophets and knew what it was to live in community; and with Elijah they learn to be channels of God's tender love for the poor and the humble."

From the Carmelite Consitutions, 1995.

O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, You alone are God.
Your servant Elijah lived in your presence and acted on your Word. Help us to drink from the well of his wisdom.
Shelter us in Cherith, and lead us to Carmel, luring our hearts away from all false gods. 
Open our eyes to the needs of those suffering. Open our mouths to speak comfort and justice. Open our hearts to your voice in the silence. 
Send angels to strengthen us. Send the rain of your grace to quench our thirst. Let us break bread with the starving and bring life to places of death and despair. Send us as prophets to herald your Gospel.
Allow us to rise to you in paradise.
Those who met your son Jesus saw in him
the spirit of Elijah. May Elijah lead us to your son.
We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Photos are from the Shrine to St. Elijah at Mount Carmel, Israel. The first is from the cave and the second is the view from above. Photos are from our formation director from her pilgrimage.)

St. Elijah's message is deeply meaningful to me because it is through him I turned my heart back to the Lord when I felt lost and forgotten. Led by his spirit, I became infused with ever-growing zeal and faithfulness. I am in love with this very ancient and beautiful tradition.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Great New Media on the Horizon

Well, I'm having a busy week, putting together new inspirational media! 
Here's the progress I've made since my last post-

Borderline and Beyond App
I'm working with a developer. For those familiar, the RAQ and BSI tests are included and they self-score! The entire e-book for Borderline and Beyond is in the app. There is an "emotional crisis" guide, so the user can click on a feeling state and receive quick practical tips from the Borderline and Beyond book about how to cope. The app contains these topics to tap on- Emotional Overwhelm, Panic, Grief, Traumatic Memories, Obsessive Thoughts, Hurt and Sad. And there's more! Well, that hasn't been developed yet, but it is coming and it will be a great surprise!

Insights from Carmel- Pat Tresselle, OCDS
This book is in the editing phase. I have an assistant editor now, who is so outstanding I'm freed up to work on other things, such as graphic design and formatting for this book-

Autism, The Dogs I Love and Me- Christopher and George Dean
This children's picture's book is full of graphic art design and stories from Christopher's life, from birth to middle school. It is a joy to produce. I may provide some "sneak peaks" in further blogs.

And, in other news...
As usual, my books are for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. There is also a kindle edition on Amazon and my ebook is coming soon to the Apple store. Look for it there!

I'll keep you all updated!
As always, let me know if you'd like to pre-order or be notified via email as books are released.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Coming soon- Insights from Carmel by Patricia Tresselle, OCDS

Patricia Tresselle, OCDS was the formation director for Secular Carmelite classes from approximately 1979 to 1999. During that time, Pat wrote many soul-stirring articles for use with formation.

Non-Carmelites will now have the rare opportunity to study some of the OCDS formation process and learn about the Carmelite way of life. Pat Tresselle teaches types of prayer and stages in the formation of prayer life, and she also shares insights she has had through the years about the teachings of various Carmelite saints and reflections on their literary works.

Pat is also a friend who served as my mentor during my year as an OCDS aspirant. As soon I met Pat, I experienced her natural joy and playfulness, and I knew she was someone I wanted to get to know. She is an incredibly insightful person and I have enjoyed her thoughts and reflections, especially in our lectio divina. For all these reasons and more, I am excited to be publishing her book, which will be a great resource to ordinary people who are searching for spiritual development, Carmelites and people discerning the call to Carmel.

Insights from Carmel is coming soon. If you would like to be notified when the title is released, please email

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Creativeness of Death

I rarely dream, but last night I dreamt that I was worried that a room in a house might be on fire. The room belonged to someone I worried about a lot, who had been perplexing me. I was worried he would burn the whole house down. Instead, someone showed me what was really going on inside. There was a large cylinder filled with liquid. Sparks were coming out of it, like electricity, which had only looked like fire. Inside, there was an animated skeleton at a workbench building other skeletons out of bones.

Usually in dreams, it helps to look at a "first feeling" and a "first association" in order to find out how the dream may speak to us. My first feeling was awe and happy surprise in the cleverness and originality. Also, relief that the "fire" was contained and no danger. My first association was of the "culture of death." Seems such a paradox- creative activity as the dead create more dead. Yet, this is what goes on in the majority of society today. That's what's happening in the "mass mind" of American culture.

It was not a "black and white" image, but animated with many facets of human experience. Unlike what Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead," the dead are creating the dead- They are using their creative power, the power of life, to create more death. The sad thing is how very few people see what's really going on.

For those of us on the outside, our first reaction is often alarm. We genuinely fear for the well-being of people because of the self-destructiveness that often results from "life" in the culture of death. We don't want to lose our friends and family members. The truth is that if we can be mindful of the emotion of fear and detach from it, it is possible to see how people are creating beauty from the "bare bones" of life.  Just because someone is a part of the "culture of death" does not mean they don't also have those amazing sparks of life in them. It's on a continuum, not a case of "us and them."

When I wrote Borderline and Beyond, I had the same emotions as the ones I had in the dream. Basically, I backed up from the train wreck of my life and saw the beauty in the worst of circumstances. My ability to write and produce art slowly helped me find my way out of the darkness that threatened to destroy me. We need to hold on to and nurture those strengths. If we are to help those who are struggling and lost, we should show them the light and not only disparage the darkness we see.

I can't forget how intimately I know the culture of death. For those of you who don't know what that means- The culture of death is about despair, self-absorption, apathy and poverty. Some say it is about abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, suicide and so on. I say that that despair and self-absorption often lead to these things, but the "culture of death" is a much wider concept. It permeates our media. And yet, in those creative sparks, so much hope abounds!

I loved the movie, "The Nightmare Before Christmas." I have found joy in the Mexican celebration of the "Day of the Dead." As in Ezekiel,  "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life." (Ezekiel 37:4-5)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Borderline and Beyond App Preview

Well, The Borderline and Beyond ebook and app are both on the way. The e-book will be the standard text, a duplicate of the printed book. 

However, the app will have a lot more "cool functionaliy."

The app is still under development. Since I like doing most things myself, I managed to develop half of it but there is no way to complete this without lots of knowledge of code. So, the workbook components of the app are being hammered out by a professional team.

The I-phone/Android App 
will contain-

* The Ebook in its entirety, divided by sections

* Emotional Crisis tips and simple exercises from the book, designed for each mood state you are in, from anxiety to anger. You'll just scroll, choose your problem or feeling, read and get quick and convenient help. (Of course, if you are suicidal or homicidal, you will need to call 911 instead.)

AND these components of the workbook:

* Two tests that self-score- The BSI- (Borderline Symptom Inventory) and the RAQ (Reality Awareness Questionnaire). Hopefully, there will be a way to record the scores of both tests, so you can watch your results improve over time.

*HOPEFULLY-- A place where you can journal and record your thoughts, just like in the journal.

In other words, you get the whole Borderderline and Beyond ebook for mobile AND lots of workbook functionality all in one for less than the cost of just one book.

I'll keep you posted as to its debut.
(I don't even know an estimated released date. My development team hasn't given me one.)

Stay tuned!

(If you'd like to stay informed when it's available, just email


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Borderline and Beyond, Original- New Hope, Different Era

I'm blogging today to say a few words about Borderline and Beyond. I'm happy to have the original book and workbook editions back in print.

Some of you might remember the latest editions in 2001 and 2007, but the revised editions did not improve upon the original in any significant way.

Feedback has been that the 1996 edition surpassed the 2001 or 2007 revisions and so I'm bringing the books back in their original form.

Lots of progress in the field of Borderline Personality Disorder has been made in the past seventeen years since I wrote Borderline and Beyond. Back when I wrote it, the diagnosis was baffling in its very existence. Why take a chronically suicidal, emotionally fragile person and tell them they have an incurable personality disorder? What sense did that possibly make? It was like damning people to their own personal hell.

I fought back. If professionals weren't going to help me, I was going to do all I could to help myself. I worked really hard at it. The result of that work was Borderline and Beyond.

Today, people diagnosed with BPD are told that the chance of their making significant progress of recovery in the first year is good and that 80% of people with BPD eventually experience remission of symptoms.  Researchers and clinicians finally got on the ball and started to try to do something about the problem besides throwing their hands up in the air and blaming it all on the difficult patient.

There is much more hope for recovery from borderline personality disorder today. I'm glad I was one of many writers and bloggers who helped usher in an era of change. I was a "poster child" for people who actually got better and recovered from BPD.

Many clinicians do not believe full recovery from BPD is possible, yet I have changed and a great number of others have experienced recovery. Through using the principles and tools in my book, I have not been diagnosed with BPD in over fifteen years.

Therefore, I'm bringing my book back into print. It worked before- It can help again. I hope many who are struggling will benefit from it.

Here's where you can buy my books-!portfolio/cjg9


On Amazon